Of all the data held in computer systems in the world today, 90 per cent was created in just the last two years, according to research gathered by Vouchercloud. The explosion of data available to businesses is undeniable, but all the analytics in the world cannot help if they do not lead to meaningful conclusions and better decision-making.
Unfortunately, as with many things, the abundance of material can leave businesses floundering, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information. What is needed is a way to make sense of the data, to collect, collate and comprehend the significance of the numbers in a way that contributes to customer satisfaction and competitive edge.
It is the recognition of that need that has led to the growth of data mining in recent years.
Using data mining to understand your processes
Data mining is a bit of a misnomer, because it is not the data that businesses are interested in digging up, but the connections, patterns and conclusions that it contains.
Data mining uses the power of cutting-edge computing to analyze data sets, employing artificial intelligence (AI) tools to identify patterns hidden within massive data sets and make projections based on them. It utilizes machine learning technology to reveal otherwise unidentified groupings in the information and use these as a basis to extrapolate predictions.
While data mining is a valuable tool in and of itself, it is the application of this technology to enterprise processes that shows just how effective contemporary computing techniques can be for business analysis.
Process mining is a subset of data mining that utilizes the information held in business systems and transactional computer records to create logs that, under digital analysis, reveal patterns of process execution and efficiency.
Process mining is the automation of what we have always known is essential: understanding your current processes and identifying the breakdowns.
What process mining allows us to do is leapfrog over the manual reviewing of data flows and procedural content, and dive straight into the heart of process excellence and continuous improvement.
Where it might take weeks, even months, of meetings and reviews to pin down where the inefficiencies in a process lie when using traditional methods, process mining can gather information about the flow of data or resources and identify choke points or breakdowns in a matter of hours. Additionally, the data is current and based on real-time statistics, not six-month-old anecdotal information.
With those kinds of insights in hand, business teams can immediately look to improve their processes with pinpoint precision, focusing efforts on what the data, rather than hearsay, has identified as the most significant holdups.
Maximizing the efforts of process improvement professionals
This approach does not mean that process experts are out of work, however, not by a long way. Process mining is another tool to help optimize business processes, but it can only highlight the data that exists within your organization. Understanding and acting on those insights are key human factors that bridge the gap between process analysis and process improvement.
What a process mining approach does mean is that efforts can be targeted to where they will do the most good. Process improvement teams can take the analytics provided and marry them to their knowledge of process automation solutions like digital forms, document generation, digital workflow routing and robotic process automation.
The smart application of these tools, guided by data-backed insights into process performance, can provide significantly better returns than relying on manual revision and review methodologies.
As digital transformation continues to take hold in every sector, the volume of business data available will only continue to grow exponentially. Rather than being overwhelmed by this tsunami of information, process experts can harness it through process mining technologies and apply the content these tools provide to make effective and efficient process improvements.
While there will always be a place for human insight and creative thinking, the current wave of digital analytics provides a huge boost to continuous improvement and can help us all accelerate our businesses toward process excellence.